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College of Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

Lessons in Leadership

Lessons in Leadership

Ed Whitacre, former chairman and CEO of General Motors and chairman emeritus of AT&T Inc., presented the keynote address of the inaugural UTSA College of Engineering Game Changer lecture.

Whitacre’s lecture, “Lessons in Leadership” touched on his rise to prominence and how, as an engineer, he successfully navigated the business world.

Much of his talk focused on having a vision and acting upon it. He attributed his success, not to never failing, but to making a plan and sticking with it. He also addressed the need to simplify operations and empower employees to make decisions. Throughout it all, He further emphasized the importance of treating people with respect.

The highlight of the lecture came during the question and answer session. Members of the audience were able to ask him about specific experiences in his life or his thoughts on weighty subjects like needing more female CEOs.

At the conclusion of the lecture, Whitacre graciously signed copies of his book and spoke one-on-one with individual attendees, many of whom also had their photo taken with him. Whitacre’s “Lessons in Leadership” and amiable nature set the bar high for incoming speakers.

Whitacre was also thanked for his contribution to the College of Engineering and given a real chair to symbolize his donation of $500,000 for The Edward E. Whitacre, Jr. Endowed Chair in Mechanics. The Edward E. Whitacre Chair in Mechanics offers students the opportunity to prepare for careers in traditional, new and emerging technologies in the field of Mechanical Engineering. The endowment will support a leader who will continue to advance knowledge, communication and leadership skills for the benefit of future engineers. The endowment was created by the Whitacre Family Foundation.

The new lecture series is designed to present highly successful engineers and community leaders sharing their knowledge and experiences with students and others in the university and engineering communities.

“Each lecture in this series is meant to inspire students and give them a role model they can use as a guidepost for their own career paths,” said Mauli Agrawal, dean of the UTSA College of Engineering. “Mr. Whitacre is known for his diligence, attention to detail and decisive management style, and we are very excited that our students will be able to witness what makes a great leader tick.”

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